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More Minnesota drivers are being cited under the state’s hands-free law

During last month’s statewide law enforcement campaign to call attention to the dangers of driving while holding a phone or other electronic device, the staggering number of citations issued across Minnesota demonstrated just how serious the problem is. It appears to be getting worse.

Citations for violating the state’s hands-free law rose 57% over last year’s campaign — with nearly 5,400 issued compared with just over 3,400 last April during Distracted Driving Awareness Month. St. Paul law enforcement issued more citations than any other agency – including the Minnesota State Patrol – at over 950.

“Disturbing, unacceptable and extremely frustrating”

An official with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) said, “The number of citations issued is disturbing, unacceptable and extremely frustrating.” He added, “Getting distracted behind the wheel for even a couple seconds can end with someone being seriously hurt or killed.” Sheriff’s deputies in Anoka County said that drivers admitted to them during traffic stops that they’d been doing things like texting and even looking at their bank accounts. Some drivers were ticketed twice for violating the hands-free law in the same day.

Citations for violating this law cost a driver $120 for a first offense and over $300 for subsequent offenses. That’s in addition to any court and other fees they may have to pay. Of course, if they cause a crash – particularly one that injuries or kills someone – the costs will be far higher.

Watching from above

Law enforcement agencies are taking steps to help not only spot drivers who are distracted by their phone or other electronics but to determine whether they were distracted at the time of a crash. Some agencies have invested in pickup trucks with camera mounted on them that can record what drivers are doing in their vehicles.

If you’ve been injured, or a loved one has been killed, by another driver, determining whether they were distracted by their phone – or anything else – when the collision occurred can help you better seek the justice and compensation you deserve. Seeking experienced legal guidance can help.